How to Clean a Crib Mattress Properly and Keep Your Child Healthy

It is important to know how to clean a crib mattress properly. You should know how to do so without leaving any bacteria, mold or parasites still on it, particularly in any corners, edges or seams. You will then be doing all you can to keep your baby healthy and happy. All young children can have accidents or be sick, and even without that the mattress itself can become grubby and need a good clean.

As inferred above, knowing how to clean a crib mattress properly not only keeps the mattress looking good, but also prevents your child from coming into contact with bacteria, molds, and parasites.  No matter how clean your home is, neglecting the cleaning of any mattress is liable to lead to health issues – particularly with young children. Here is how to avoid this by cleaning your crib mattress when needed, and keep your children safe from infection.

How to Clean a Crib Mattress Properly

Much depends on why you are cleaning it. Is it because your child has been ill or had an accident and you have vomit or other contamination to deal with? Are you cleaning the crib mattress because it looks grubby and is due a good clean? The approach to both these scenarios is the same – namely to remove surface contamination or debris and then clean the mattress.

We shall assume for now that your crib mattress has a plastic cover. Most do, and you are advised to find one for your crib or cot if you don’t already have one. Slip your mattress inside the cover.  You can save yourself a great deal of work when you come to clean it!

Steps to Take When Cleaning a Crib Mattress

a)Sickness, Urine or Feces: All parents meet this situation at some time or other. Remove the contamination as you normally would, using absorbent paper towels or whatever you use for such incidents. Then wipe the surface over with bleach or some other disinfectant. Once the main contamination has been removed, continue from step 2 below.

b)General Cleaning of a Grubby Cot Mattress: Give the mattress a good vacuum, preferably using an upholstery brush attachment if you have one. Make sure all solids have been removed and then continue as below.

  1. Check the underside of the crib mattress and remove any obvious debris there.
  2. Make up a detergent solution. A good type of detergent to use would be a washing powder or liquid intended for children’s clothes. Dissolve 3-4 tablespoons of this in a gallon of warm water – or if you prefer, 2 tablespoons in 4 points. You could also include a tablespoon of bleach or disinfectant if the mattress has been contaminated with biological fluids such as those mentioned above.
  3. Make sure it is all mixed properly and any powder is dissolved. Using a soft brush or dishwashing sponge gives the mattress a good clean over. Wet the sponge or brush first – do not pour the solution over the mattress.
  4. Rinse the mattress completely by first using a dry sponge to remove the soap/detergent solution. Then wet a new sponge with clean water and give the crib mattress another good clean over. Fundamentally, what you are doing is cleaning the mattress with detergent/antiseptic, and then moving all traces of that from the mattress.
  5. Dry the mattress with a clean towel or cloth. Leave it until it is totally dry, including any seams. Any dampness could lead to mold or mildew, and could also be a good breeding place for bacteria. If it is a sunny day, it would be good to leave the mattress out in the sun to dry.
  6. Check it over: If it looks clean then it likely is Then checking it again, particularly in corners and any seams.

If the mattress still has stains then you can clean it further using lemon juice. Make up a 50/50 mixture of lemon juice and water.  If you can’t use lemon juice then use vinegar. Lemon juice contains citric acid and vinegar contains acetic acid. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle then spray it over the contaminated areas. Let the mattress stand 15 minutes or so then clean it over with a wet sponge.

You can also use baking soda – sodium bicarbonate. Wet the contaminated area with water then sprinkle baking soda over it.  Let it completely dry then rub it or vacuum it off. It’s easy to see because it is white when dry. Baking soda is not harmful to your child. Natural solutions are better than chemical cleaners for a baby.


The above instructions explain fundamentally how to clean a crib mattress. They also explain why you should always buy a crib mattress with a plastic cover. You can easily place a fabric top over the mattress. Then, if your child has an accident, or spills something, you can machine wash the top and easily clean the plastic covered crib mattress. It is not so easy to clean a fabric covered mattress.

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